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Abstention and signaling in large repeated elections

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  • Hummel, Patrick
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    Abstract

    I consider a two period model of repeated elections in which politicians update their beliefs about the preferences of the voters after the first period election and set second period policies accordingly. When voting is costless, a positive fraction of voters abstains for any finite population, but abstention vanishes in the limit of an arbitrarily large election. I demonstrate that in large elections, a single vote changes second period policies by an amount exponentially large compared to the probability of influencing the first period election if the probabilities with which voters vote for the two candidates differ. Using this, I prove that the limiting voting behavior in the first election is independent of the first period policy choices of the candidates. The incentive to vote to signal one's preferences thus dominates the incentive to vote to increase the chances of electing one's preferred candidate.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

    Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 586-593

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:72:y:2011:i:2:p:586-593

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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    Keywords: Abstention Signaling Elections;

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    1. Francesco Sinopoli & Giovanna Iannantuoni, 2007. "A spatial voting model where proportional rule leads to two-party equilibria," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 267-286, January.
    2. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Voting as Communicating," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 169-91, January.
    3. John Morgan & Phillip C. Stocken, 2008. "Information Aggregation in Polls," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 864-96, June.
    4. Ronny Razin, 2003. "Signaling and Election Motivations in a Voting Model with Common Values and Responsive Candidates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1083-1119, 07.
    5. Kenneth Shotts, 2006. "A Signaling Model of Repeated Elections," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 251-261, October.
    6. Meirowitz, Adam, 2005. "Polling games and information revelation in the Downsian framework," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 464-489, May.
    7. Meirowitz, Adam & Shotts, Kenneth W., 2009. "Pivots versus signals in elections," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 744-771, March.
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